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Of Special Interest ...examining a significantly timely topic

Dec 06 2022

Research Preview: Inflation And Margins

  • Dec 6, 2022

A new study looking at the relationship between inflation and profit margins is introduced. The goal is to understand how the latest margin peak was reached in mid-2021 and what impact inflation might have on margin forecasts underlying next year’s earnings estimates. Full report will be sent mid-month.

Dec 06 2022

Third Quarter 2022 Earnings Waterfall

  • Dec 6, 2022

This earnings season has not been free of concern, and profit margins are clearly weakening from last year’s highs. Our earnings waterfall template highlights several themes coming out of third quarter results.

Nov 21 2022

Tactical Tools For A Stronger Dollar

  • Nov 21, 2022

The 2022 bear market has been driven by collapsing valuation multiples, particularly for expensive growth stocks and unprofitable companies. Coming into the year, U.S. stocks stood as one of the most egregiously valued equity markets around the world, motivating investors to look elsewhere for more reasonably priced alternatives. Fortunately, international stock markets offered much better valuations that could serve as havens from the coming U.S. valuation collapse. Unfortunately, the strategy of seeking refuge in moderately priced foreign markets was foiled by an unusually strong U.S. dollar, leading us to take a closer look at how moves in the USD affect investment outcomes for domestic investors.

Nov 04 2022

Research Preview: Returns In A Year Of Dollar Strength

  • Nov 4, 2022

The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) has gained 16.2% YTD, its best performance in almost 40 years. However, a strong dollar is bad for those with international investments, as returns are slashed when translated back into dollars. 

Oct 24 2022

The 60/40’s Annus Horribilis

  • Oct 24, 2022

The balanced portfolio strategy of allocating 60% to equities and 40% to fixed income generated a highly satisfactory 7.9% annualized return over the last 30 years. Despite the excellent returns earned by investors following this strategic model, the past couple of years have seen a parade of articles with headlines such as “Is the 60/40 Portfolio Obsolete?” and “Is the 60/40 Dead?” Given the central importance of this moderate allocation strategy to investment industry practices, we felt a closer look at the 60/40 portfolio was in order.

 

Oct 07 2022

Research Preview: The 60/40 Skeptics Were Right

  • Oct 7, 2022

The 60/40 strategy is having a terrible year, and its failure to protect investors in the bear market prompted us to take a look at the history and theory of the 60/40 guideline. We offer an early preview of the study, with a focus on 2022’s abysmal year-to-date returns.

Sep 20 2022

Factor Returns And A Basket Of EGGs

  • Sep 20, 2022

Equity factors are characteristics that have historically generated excess returns relative to the universe of stocks. However, in recent years factor returns have been underwhelming, causing investors to wonder if factors have become too popular, too crowded, or just plain obsolete. Then came the second quarter of 2022, when all six major factors outperformed the S&P 500, a feat only accomplished in four quarters over the last 27 years!

Sep 07 2022

Research Preview: Factor Cyclicality

  • Sep 7, 2022

In Q2, all six major style factors outperformed the market. Those results are especially remarkable considering that factor excess returns the past few years have been underwhelming to the point that some investors began to wonder if they still work.

Aug 04 2022

The Active/Passive Performance Cycle Second Quarter 2022 Update

  • Aug 4, 2022

The performance derby between actively-managed portfolios and passively-managed index funds is a topic of ongoing interest for Leuthold clients and the investment community at large. Therefore, we are providing an update to all charts and tables of our Active/Passive performance analyses.

Jul 21 2022

Earnings Expectations: The Bear’s Other Shoe

  • Jul 21, 2022

To paraphrase that great market historian Leo Tolstoy, “each bear market is unhappy in its own way.” Recession, interest rates, valuation bubbles, inflation, war, credit cycles, oil prices, manias & panics: the tipping point that triggers each bear market is always different. However, bearish forces ultimately manifest themselves in just two ways; declining earnings and/or declining valuations. June’s Of Special Interest report detailed how the current bear market has been fueled entirely by collapsing valuations, with the largest P/E compressions occurring in companies with the highest starting valuations.

 

Jul 07 2022

Research Preview: The Impact Of Falling Estimates

  • Jul 7, 2022

The 2022 bear market has been driven entirely by a collapse in P/E ratios. Last month, we noted that the other potential driver of market declines—falling earnings—had yet to raise its ugly head. Now we examine past episodes to consider how the stock market might react when the “other shoe” (EPS) drops.

Jun 22 2022

“PSsss”

  • Jun 22, 2022

The most brutal bear markets occur when falling earnings are accompanied by shrinking valuations, producing a compound negative effect on stock prices. Investors in 2022 have (so far) avoided this double-whammy in that valuations have taken a hit, but EPS estimates are holding strong. We are intrigued by the notion that 2022’s bear market has, to date, been all about valuation compression rather than earnings weakness. Investors are coping with the problems of the day by letting the air out of bubbly valuations, and this report takes a closer look at the valuation squeeze underlying the current selloff.

Jun 06 2022

Research Preview: P/E Multiple Compression In 2022

  • Jun 6, 2022

Stock market corrections are the result of falling valuations and/or falling earnings, and when both conditions appear together, investors are in for a rough ride. Thus far, the 2022 selloff has been confined to compressing P/E ratios, and we launched a research project to take a closer look at shrinking stock valuations in this market downdraft.

May 23 2022

The World Of Emerging Market Bonds

  • May 23, 2022

Investors looking to diversify away from the U.S. interest rate environment and/or the domestic business cycle may wish to consider Emerging Market bonds, an asset class with lower correlations to the U.S. Agg. Bond Index. EM bond investors can choose between several investment attributes to find the risk / return profile with which they are most comfortable. This study surveys the investment tradeoffs offered by each sub-category, as defined by ETFs focused on each particular asset class.

May 05 2022

Research Preview: Emerging Market Bonds

  • May 5, 2022

The U.S. Aggregate Bond Index lost 3.8% in April, bringing its year-to-date return to an agonizing -9.5%. The realization that bonds can lose big money, combined with the outlook for stubbornly high inflation and continued rate increases, is nudging bond investors to consider a wider scope of alternatives.

Apr 06 2022

A Tale Of Two CDs

  • Apr 6, 2022

Investors considering a position in the Consumer Discretionary sector need to be aware of what they are buying: a basket in which one-half consists of mature, modestly-valued consumer brands, while the other half is two mega caps with excellent growth profiles and high absolute valuations. It would be a mistake to view this sector as a homogeneous set of companies.

Mar 21 2022

ETFs Evolving: Make Mine Mint Chip

  • Mar 21, 2022

The ETF concept began as a vehicle to provide low-cost access to a broad market index, and the terms “passive”, “cheap”, “index”, and “ETF” were often used synonymously. However, ETFs soon evolved into specialty funds that allowed investors to take focused active tilts in sectors, styles, and countries; a landmark shift away from the notion of passively investing in the total market.  These specialty funds are easy to trade and tax efficient, but they do not fall under the labels of cheap, passive, or broad market.

Mar 17 2022

Special Study: Should You Buy The Dip? Some Statistical Considerations…

  • Mar 17, 2022

The correction in the S&P 500 since its high on January 3rd qualifies as a “severe” correction, which we define as a decline of at least -12% based on daily closing prices. What are the odds that it becomes a “major” decline*—in which the loss exceeds -19%?

In Section I, we review the history of severe corrections since 1950. In Section II, those corrections are analyzed in the context of the economic cycle, consumer sentiment, and other underlying factors—ones that might help us determine if today’s stock-market weakness is “buyable.” 

Mar 05 2022

Research Preview: The Evolving ETF Landscape

  • Mar 5, 2022

Exchange Traded Funds came to life in early 1993 with the launch of SPY, a passive fund tracking the S&P 500. Subsequent ETFs followed in the S&P MidCap 400 (MDY), the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA), and the NASDAQ 100 (QQQ). Still, six years after SPY’s debut there were only four domestic equity ETFs outstanding at the end of 1999.

Feb 22 2022

The Mysterious Affair of Style Returns

  • Feb 22, 2022

Mystery writers are fond of creating misdirection by introducing multiple eyewitnesses that each describe the crime differently. This plot device confuses the storyline until a clever detective comes forward to unravel the conflicting evidence and solve the mystery. 

This scenario played out in style returns for 2021, as shown in Table. Our first witness is a large cap manager who tracks the S&P 500 and reports another banner year for Growth, its seventh win in the last ten years. Our second observer is a small cap manager who watches the broader market and tells of Value’s excellent year. Meanwhile, our third bystander is an international manager tracking EAFE, who reports seeing a whole lotta’ nothing in the style derby last year. In this study, we channel our inner Hercule Poirot to determine what, in fact, did happen across domestic style returns in 2021.